The Maryland STEM Festival started with one event.
Phil Rogofsky started with a festival at Wilde Lake Middle School in Howard County, which his son was attending at the time. From there, it evolved to the Howard County STEM Festival. Now, it’s statewide.
With each step, the goal has been to help everyone get exposure to STEM and the potential careers that the skills could help lead to.
“We’ve tried to create something where many different people have the opportunity to get to many different events,” said Rogofsky.
The third edition of the statewide festival is set to return from Oct. 31-Nov. 7, with the number of events approaching 600. While Rogofsky works with a variety of agencies and organizations that put on events, he acts as ringleader and champion for the festival. It’s his mission to offer opportunities that serve as an entry point to careers in science, technology, engineering and math for everyone. Rogofsky sees the need for STEM in many industries, whether it’s drones on the farm or robots in manufacturing.
That theme is evident in one of the festival’s signature events with the Blue Collar STEM Conference. Held on Nov. 6 at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore the conference is seeking to put an emphasis on jobs that don’t require four-year degrees. The daylong event includes policymakers and industry leaders from a variety of industries like manufacturing, health and automotive. Even IT workers could be considered “blue collar” at this point, Rogofsky said.
“The emphasis of this conference is to make sure that blue collar workers are still a vital part of the economy and are not left behind,” he said.
That range is evident in other signature events marshaled by Rogofsky, as well. The opening ceremony for the festival will be the Agriculture and STEM Summit on Oct. 31 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. On Nov. 10, Morgan State University is hosting a Sports and STEM Expo that’s expected to bring 1,000 students from across Baltimore.
Rogofsky said the part of creating a “culture of STEM.” Not every area may interest every person, but having a wide range allows people to see what is available beyond the scientists, engineers and doctors that immediately come to mind when thinking of such careers.
There’s also an emphasis on reaching out to communities who have lower representation in the STEM fields. Another pair of events at Wilde Lake Middle School on Oct. 4 with gather leaders from the African American and Hispanic communities to meet students and others.
“The purpose from day one was to make sure it was accessible to all Marylanders,” he said.-30-
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